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Using the learning progressions

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Last updated 26 October 2012 15:28 by NZTecAdmin
Using the learning progressions is part of a set of resources developed to support the teaching of literacy and numeracy for adult learners.

Teaching Adults to Listen and Speak to Communicate: Using the Learning Progressions is part of a set of resources developed to support the teaching of literacy and numeracy for adult learners. The end goal is to enable tutors to meet the learning needs of their adult learners so those learners can engage effectively with the texts, tasks and practices they encounter in their training and learning. The suggestions in each resource are aligned with the following Tertiary Education Commission publications:

These are referred to collectively as the learning progressions and can be located on the TEC website.

These resources are based on research into effective adult literacy and numeracy, as described in Lighting the Way.1 They also draw on schoolsector work in literacy and numeracy, including Numeracy Project publications and the teachers’ books Effective Literacy Practice in Years 5 to 8 and Effective Literacy Strategies in Years 9 to 13.2

Readers are referred to the learning progressions publications (as listed above) for detailed discussions of adult learners, ESOL learners and the theoretical basis for each of the progressions. These books also contain glossaries and reference lists.

The following set of resources has been developed to support the use of the learning progressions:

(all published by the TEC, 2008 and also available at www.tec.govt.nz)

The suggestions in these resources are initial ideas only: they are aimed at helping tutors apply the learning progressions to existing course and learning materials. It is expected that tutors will use, adapt and extend these ideas to meet the needs of learners and their own teaching situations. There are many other resources available for tutors to use, and comparisons with the learning progressions will help you determine where other resources may fit in your programmes, and how well they might contribute to learner progress.

The oral history of Ngā-Iwi Māori

The Māori culture is underpinned by an oral history. This means that listening and speaking have always been a strong part of Te Ao Māori – the Māori worldview and way of life. This oral history is seen in:

  • kōrero (speaking)
  • whaikōrero (speech-making)
  • waiata, ngeri, haka and other forms of song and dance.

Variations of this oral history are captured within the narrative and discourse of different objects or forms that express this way of life. These include:

  • toi (art, including ta - moko)
  • whakairo (carving)
  • raranga (forms of weaving, such as tukutuku or lattice work).

Māori customary practice is most visible on the marae where ceremonies such as pōwhiri (welcome) and poroporoaki (farewell) are a strong part of daily life. Oral language is the mode through which most teaching and learning is conveyed.

A strong listening and speaking culture has emerged from these traditions and this continues in many contemporary extensions of Māori life today, for example in Kōhanga Reo, Kura Kaupapa and wānanga (on the marae and in tertiary education settings).

Mātauranga Māori

Māori pedagogy considers working with all aspects or domains of a person’s wellbeing rather than assuming that teachers and tutors should only work within the cognitive domain. When the other domains are neglected, the chances of getting the best from the cognitive domain are reduced. These domains were outlined in Te Whare Tapa Whā (Durie, 1988).3 They are:

  • Taha Wairua (spiritual wellbeing) – by commencing or opening class for the day with a karakia (prayer). Variations to this may be to read a Whakataukī (Māori proverb), poem, thought of the day. This can be in Te Reo Rangatira or English. If the start of a course, class or session is carried out in this manner then it should be closed in the same way to complete the circle.
  • Taha Tinana (physical wellbeing) – tutors may wish to commence new enrolments’ intake day by attending to the physical dimension, for example, with a barbeque. This process offers an opportunity for learners to get to know each other and the teaching team in a more informal manner. Tutors may wish to organise a shared morning tea at the commencement of teaching a new course, module or part of the curriculum to signal the beginning of the course content or curriculum and perhaps the end or conclusion. Depending on the curriculum and institution, some tutors allow food and drink into the classroom. This encourages learners to remain autonomous (able to take care of their own physical needs) as adults during the learning process.
  • Taha Whānau (family or social wellbeing) – tutors may wish to incorporate some social engagement activities to address this dimension. A traditional or customary practice is generally known as:
    • Whakawhanaungatanga – creating a family/ connected environment
    • Whakatau – introductions
    • Mihimihi – greetings.

In a more informal, modern context these parts of session or lesson planning could be icebreakers tailored to suit the social needs of learners, aimed at creating a familiar, family-like learning environment.

  • Taha Hinengaro (the wellbeing of the mind).

These domains account for a person’s total wellbeing: they come with the learner as he or she walks in the door.

A further application of Mātauranga Māori concerns the ways in which people learn. There are four models that can be applied to most teaching activities:4

  • Te Whare Tapa Whā - : the principles described above as applied to group work in which care of the whole person is considered for optimal teaching and learning to occur.
  • Ako: to learn and to teach, is applied to direct instruction. The roles of teacher and learner may shift, allowing for a dynamic learning partnership.
  • Tuakana-Teina: the relationship between an older (or more expert) and a younger (or less expert) person, extended to apply to pair work where two people work together to share their different knowledge and skills.
  • Pōwhiri Poutama: a staircase model of learning in which the step up represents the part of learning that ‘hurts’ or is difficult, and the step along represents the maintenance or repetition of learning.

Tutors who are mindful of the importance of these models can incorporate aspects into their practice when they are working with learners, including those who are not speakers of Te Reo Rangatira and who may not have links to iwi and marae.

1 Ministry of Education (2005). Lighting the Way. Wellington: Ministry of Education.

2 Ministry of Education (2006). Effective Literacy Practice in Years 5 to 8. Wellington: Learning Media Limited.
Ministry of Education (2004). Effective Literacy Strategies in Years 9 to 13. Wellington: Learning Media Limited.

3 Durie, M. (1988). Whaiora: Māori Health Development. Auckland: Oxford University Press.

4 These models have much in common with widely-used theories of teaching and learning, such as Vygotsky’s concept of the “zone of proximal development”, Bruner’s metaphor of “scaffolding” and Pearson and Gallagher’s “gradual release of responsibility”. Vygotsky, L.S. (1978) Mind in Society: The Development of Higher Psychological Processes. M.Cole, V. John Steiner, S. Scribner, and E. Souberman (eds and trans) Cambridge, MS: Harvard University Press; Bruner, J. (1983). Child’s Talk: Learning to Use Language. New York: Norton; Pearson, P.D. and Gallagher, M.C. (1983) “The instruction of reading comprehension”, Contemporary Educational Psychology, 8, 317-344.


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